“The head-shrinker is a quack
Anyone ‘anyone who’d wear their hair like that’
The vinyl is so cool but the conversation’s cruel
Hold my head romeo it’s in a rodeo.”

Music is a way of escaping. Music is a way of functioning. Music is a way of delving into something people try take you from, or they try convince you it’s a bad idea. You try to figure yourself out when no one is around because sometimes other people crowd your thoughts. You realise what/who you are when something is about to happen. Or when it has happened. Sometimes you need an insane Australian guy screaming in your ear to just a grip on something. The other night I wrote about Prayers On Fire by The Birthday Party. Tonight it is the turn of Junkyard. I should be doing it in order, but any form of order/organisation always leaves me feel uneasy and sick. So, I’m going to the end of The Birthday Party with their last full length record. The one that really nailed down how insane and important their sound was, and always will be.

Before I get into the music, I’ll just mention the artwork briefly. The artwork is equally as crazy and brutal as the songs. The artwork resembles someone, in my eyes, being possessed by something greater than them. Something that grabs them and takes them where nobody else ever has. Where no one else had dared to go. For me it makes Junkyard as one of those records you listen to by going on the artwork if you weren’t already familiar with the band. A sinister but brilliant cover, just like the record.

Junkyard was released around 34 years ago and when I listen to it, it sounds like something that has never come from a time. Maybe a band now could make something like this, I’m not sure but I know that no other band has ever made anything like this. Sure many, so many have given it a go but nobody comes close to The Birthday Party do they. The songs are wild and most would write it off as unlistenable.

To write this record off in such a way is crazy. But that’s just because Junkyard appeals to the side of my brain that probably only one person gets. Junkyard is a blistering collection of rowdy songs who aren’t for those wanting sunshine, rainbows and the like. It’s for those who want something that leaves them feeling unsettled, unsure and on the edge of something that is destined to possess them. Is listening to The Birthday Party like falling in love? In a way, yes. The kind that isn’t typical. The kind that no one but you and the other person can only understand. Unless it is one sided, then you should probably play the Mutiny EP instead. Don’t get into this one, save yourself! Junkyard is one of the most ferocious and ruthless records I have ever heard. I love how it is a chaotic whirlwind, like a hurricane hitting the soul. Something takes you over when you listen to this record, and it is one that you play alone. Over and over.

Songs like She’s Hit and Release The Bats(bonus track on the record)  unleash this almost sexual tension within the record, the kind of tormenting lust that takes over your brain and the rest of your body. You give in to every ugly and every beautiful feeling. Everything you feel becomes heightened when you listen to this record, and those two songs especially increase any tension that burns inside the listener. It’s pleasantly intense, but aren’t all the best things in life exactly like that?!

Several Sins is possibly my favourite on the record, and obviously I (typically) love Release The Bats. Several Sins is a real filthy and Bluesy song that sits under 3 minutes. It’s a record that oozes chaos and on Several Sins you think it might be one of the calmer songs on the record, but the hook is so sinister you can’t help but think Nick and the band are towering over you and tell you exactly how they are going to fuck you up. The Birthday Party never felt like just a band, they always gave off something more and that really comes through on Junkyard. Several Sins sounds like it could have influenced so many Tarantino films. It is so dark, pure evil and highly enticing. You can’t but let this song suck you in to whatever underworld The Birthday Party lure you into, with your eyes shut. Anticipating something truly but wonderfully fucked up. Put my name down now.

With its incredibly intense atmosphere and perfectly passionate songs, Junkyard quite possibly defined what The Birthday Party were about. An unsettling listen with words that can shoot through the coldest of hearts. The lyrics and the music are both as menacing as each other. It leaved you wanting to pick up a pen and created your own tormenting lust/love story. I won’t say it has evil tones flowing through it, far from it. It just has eerie and dark imagery that awakens the soul in the best way possible. Play it late at night and let your mind wander off. It might not do the same if you listen to it on the way to work, although you could disturb fellow commuters/drown them out with Nick’s extremely powerful screams and yelps.

From start to finish Junkyard is something to shake up your bones, mess with your mind and leave you weeping in the foetal position on the floor because you know nothing at all is going to make you feel like this. It is evident that Junkyard is a stroke of madman genius. Junkyard will make you carry something deeply intense within you and it will also make you feel like you’re teetering with insanity. Sure it is an uneasy listen for some, but hand on heart, this is one of the most influential and greatest records of all time. Could anyone get away with creating something like this now? Probably not. It’s one of those rare records that capture something that we won’t ever see again.







“The rhythm of her walk, it’s beautiful.
Just let it twist, let it break.
Let it buckle, let it bend.
I want the noise of my zoo music girl.”


When you see/hear a band for the first time, it always stays with you. It stays with you because you eventually fall in love with said band. Something or someone places that band in your life, and what happens after holds not much importance. Unless you want to get into it. You know the story about my love for Nick Cave. It started with me gawping at a poster of him in my uncle’s room. I used to go up there and just stare at it, along with one of Lou Reed. Both are huge loves of mine, both are why I care tremendously about lyrics and why I have a fascination with words.

The Birthday Party were one of the first bands I remember hearing that wonderfully terrified me. The way in which Nick would let out these screams, these crazy noises which seemed to tie in perfectly with Rowland’s manic guitar playing fascinated me. This noise blew my tiny mind at a young age, and maybe someone so young shouldn’t have been listening to them but I’m glad I was given the freedom to listen to whatever I wanted. Their first record was a demonic body of work that corrupted my mind and launched me to the less conventional side of being. Something I’m forever thankful for. Most regard love being defined in those sickly rom-com films. Hell no. It’s in a Nick Cave song.

I’ve chosen to write about Prayers On Fire because it’s the record that I first remember hearing, although I have a feeling I may have been turned on to Junkyard first. That’s for a different day because the artwork alone needs talking about. Always. Prayers On Fire is full of smutty, filthy and dangerous songs that make you want to slam someone into a wall, and do whatever you will. The tense yelps from Nick’s mouth send trembling and frequent shivers down your neck. Certain songs have this unkind and menacing feel to them. No song on this record is vulnerable or gentle. Each song leaves you saying “Oh fuck” at the end of it. It is rich in depravity and is easily one of the greatest records of all time. It needs to be played so loud that your neighbour thinks it is you that is being possessed bu something greater than you. Each song sounds like a drunken brawl spilling into the night. Each song has bouts of this glorious insanity that is found in the minds of geniuses.

The songs all read like sordid poetry that could easily be the script to a twisted horror film. The minds of The Birthday Party allow each member to explore something so dark, mysterious and unknown. For me it has ALWAYS been about Rowland S. Howard and his ability to shake up the listener with his machine gun sound. His way of playing guitar has evidently influenced so many bands I love, and the way he played just left you with your jaw on the ground. He managed to instill this fear into the listener with the noise he made, where Nick brought this curiosity with his yelps, screams and uneasy vocals. Phill’s drumming seemed to egg on each band member to go further and to really scare the listener. Mick Harvey was like the secret weapon and Tracy did some serious damage on the bass.

I’ve probably read the lyrics to the songs more than I have listened to them, and time and time again I always come back to Just You And Me. It’s such a warped and delirious, and it reads like such a twisted love poem. It’s like Ted Hughes mixed with Rimbaud with a hint of Poe. In short, it’s wonderfully perfect. In a way it reminds me of a really really extreme version of Lovesong by Ted Hughes. It’s a brutal dedication that most would shun because they favour something more conventional. Oh, how dull.

For me, The Birthday Party embodied everything I love about music. The fearlessness, the noise, the darkness within the songs, the poetry in the words, the way in which they take you somewhere really sinister and twisted- and you lust after it because it sounds SO good and you feel every single word. I’ve paid a lot of attention to this record of late, and I think it does have some incredible songs on it that just need to be heard. Always. I love Cry,  King Ink,  Dull Day. I could go on and on, but the record truly speaks for itself. You can’t dispute how great a record Prayers On Fire is. You just have to play it obnoxiously loud and join in with Nick’s passionate screams.

Let this whirling but assuring fear take over you as you listen to the record. Nobody is going to hold your hand on this one.